The ongoing Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh sees some family members of socialist leader and former prime minister Chandra Shekhar appealing to the BJP in what critics have described as an “opportunistic” move.
Chandra Shekhar’s home village is Ibrahimpatti located in Bilthara Road assembly constituency under Salempur Lok Sabha constituency in Ballia.
Neeraj Shekhar, son of the former Prime Minister, and Chandra Shekhar’s grandson Ravishankar Singh ‘Pappu’ work for the BJP in the assembly elections.
“The BJP, after its establishment in 1980, has carried forward the ideology of socialism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always respected Chandra Shekhar ji,” Neeraj Shekhar told PTI news agency.
When asked why he supports the BJP, a party that Chandra Shekhar has always opposed, Neeraj Shekhar did not give a straight answer.
“I am happy that the whole family is in the same party, the BJP. Ideologically, I am a socialist, and now socialism is present only in the BJP,” he said.
Neeraj Shekhar had twice been a Lok Sabha MP from Ballia before losing the 2014 Lok Sabha election to BJP’s Bharat Singh.
After that he was sent to Rajya Sabha by the Samajwadi party. However, in 2019, Neeraj Shekhar moved to BJP angry at SP for not giving Lok Sabha ticket. The BJP sent him to the Upper House.
Chandra Shekhar’s grandson, Ravishankar Singh ‘Pappu’, who joined the BJP ahead of the assembly elections, told the PTI news agency: “Socialism is not the fiefdom of any party. The BJP advances socialism, which Chandra Shekhar strove to defend.”
Recently, during election meetings, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh paid tribute to the former prime minister in their speeches.
However, the elders, who were associated with Chandrashekhar, reject the reasons given by those close to the former prime minister for them to join the BJP.
Kamlesh Singh, a former chairman of the District Cooperative Bank who was also associated with the former prime minister, told PTI, “Chandra Shekhar had always opposed BJP communal policies. aside his good relationship with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and never supported the BJP.”
He added that in the vote of confidence in 1999, he did not support the then Vajpayee government, and fell by one vote.
“Today, its heirs call the BJP a socialist by birth (‘janmajaat samajwadi’), and campaign for the BJP. This is the height of opportunism. Akhilesh Singh, Principal of Sri Murli Manohar Town Inter College who has written a book on the life and thoughts of Chandra Shekhar, said:
“The former prime minister opposed the BJP and other fascist forces. Chandra Shekhar and his family members had never supported the BJP,” he said.
“But now it is his heirs who are campaigning for the party (BJP), which he has always fought against. For them, opportunistic behavior has become more important,” he added.
Ballia will go to the polls in the sixth phase of the elections and will vote on March 3.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)